Recorded at Basement Studios with Jamie King (Between the Buried and Me), The Migration is without a doubt the best engineered and recorded record that Scale the Summit have produced. While wisely shying away from a lot of the self-indulgent noodling and congratulatory wankery that can plague progressive, there is also no doubt that one of the strengths of the record is the incredible talents of all the performers.
The production balances the needs of the individual instruments, showcasing the sometimes gossamer-fine guitar arrangements while elsewhere letting the muscular bass lines hold sway, while never letting a single instrument take over the entire track. It's an aural high wire act that is pulled off shockingly well.
Another musical magic trick that The Migration skillfully executes is the ability to build a narrative into a record with no words. At times adventurous and driven, elsewhere atmospheric and even trepidatious, the records draws the listener inexorably through a series of musical scenes that build in tension and the album goes on.
“Odyssey” has the pounding pace and stirring energy necessary to build one's courage and start an adventure, full of powerful currents and ambitions. In contrast, album closer “The Traveler” has a wiser, wistful feel to it, more complex and also poignant, the soundtrack to someone who has been irrevocably changes by their journey.
Dazzlingly technical and skillfully written, it is ultimately not the instrumentation that makes The Migration an exceptional album, though that in and of itself is impressive. It is the cohesiveness of the record, the story within it and the way every track is a necessary component to building that narrative, that makes it something special.
It is a rare gift to be able to compose music that is great in its smallest increment, the note the the phrase and the riff, to be so consumed with the finest detail, and also to be able to see the whole picture, the grander design of the album as a whole. Scale the Summit are rare in that they are able to do both.
(released June 11, 2013 on Prosthetic Records)